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Will an AR-15 last 150 Years?

This is a discussion on Will an AR-15 last 150 Years? within the Rifles forums, part of the Rifle & Shotgun Forum category; Aluminum is a great metal. It's been used extensively in all sorts of machinery, including aircraft and internal combustion engines. Throughout the years it has ...


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Old July 5th, 2014, 07:47 AM   #1
 
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Will an AR-15 last 150 Years?

Aluminum is a great metal. It's been used extensively in all sorts of machinery, including aircraft and internal combustion engines. Throughout the years it has been improved by alloying. However, there still remains one nagging question. How will it hold up compared to steel?

Vibration and shock are the enemy of all mechanical systems, especially those made from aluminum. Before alloys were used, wings and airframes suffered great damage over time. So it got me to wondering...

Just how long will an AR-15 (or any other aluminum framed firearm) stand up to the rigors of the inherently violent forces of a firearm?



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Old July 5th, 2014, 08:12 AM   #2
 
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The M16 has been around for over 50 years, and I imagine many of the first ones made are still going strong. I don't know how they would hold up to another 100 years, but by then they will be long obsolete. Replaced, no doubt, by lasers, phasers, or photon guns.
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Old July 5th, 2014, 08:16 AM   #3
 
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Replaced, no doubt, by lasers, phasers, or photon guns.
Hope I'm around for that!!!
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Old July 5th, 2014, 08:16 AM   #4
 
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The M16 has been around for over 50 years, and I imagine many of the first ones made are still going strong. I don't know how they would hold up to another 100 years, but by then they will be long obsolete. Replaced, no doubt, by lasers, phasers, or photon guns.
Electronic, or directed energy weapons, can be disabled by an EMP. While they will probably be in use 100 years from now, I doubt they will replace gunpowder.
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Old July 5th, 2014, 08:27 AM   #5
 
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How long do you expect to last? If you are still around 150 years from now, I expect brass cases with gunpowder, and primers will be a thing of the past by about 100 years.
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Old July 5th, 2014, 08:35 AM   #6
 
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How long do you expect to last? If you are still around 150 years from now, I expect brass cases with gunpowder, and primers will be a thing of the past by about 100 years.
Will I be around 150 years from now, unlikely. But it would be nice to know my great grandchildren will be able to use my firearms for fun, or whatever.
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Old July 5th, 2014, 08:42 AM   #7
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Well seeing as how AR's are plastic stocked Barbie guns and supposedly plastic water bottles have a half life of about 500,000 years I'm gonna go out on a limb and say, yes. They'll still be here 150 years from now. :-)
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Old July 5th, 2014, 09:20 AM   #8
 
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Aluminum is subject to a form of failure resulting from relatively low level cyclical loading, called Fatigue. There are some metals that are not subject to it, such as properly heat treated Steels and Titanium, below their load limit.

Used regularly, even where loads are nowhere near the Yield strength, with Aluminum you will have a crack initiate and grow cyclically to failure.

I have done some gunsmithing on AR's, and my experience is that you have a fair chance of cracking the front of an upper receiver during barrel changes. The stock trigger mechanism does not seem durable, but a Jewell and an Armalite match trigger I have are bullet proof.
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Old July 5th, 2014, 10:16 AM   #9
 
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Aluminum is subject to a form of failure resulting from relatively low level cyclical loading, called Fatigue. There are some metals that are not subject to it, such as properly heat treated Steels and Titanium, below their load limit.

Used regularly, even where loads are nowhere near the Yield strength, with Aluminum you will have a crack initiate and grow cyclically to failure.

I have done some gunsmithing on AR's, and my experience is that you have a fair chance of cracking the front of an upper receiver during barrel changes. The stock trigger mechanism does not seem durable, but a Jewell and an Armalite match trigger I have are bullet proof.
I've got to ask how you do your barrel changes?
I can understand cracking being a problem if the upper is clamped in a vise block, but by using a reaction rod locked into the barrel and having the barrel nut wrench held in a vise, I doubt it would happen at any where in the normal torque range.
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Old July 5th, 2014, 10:20 AM   #10
 
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Hope I'm around for that!!!

I don't think we will last that long.
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Old July 5th, 2014, 11:06 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by shuckinthecorn View Post
I've got to ask how you do your barrel changes?
I can understand cracking being a problem if the upper is clamped in a vise block, but by using a reaction rod locked into the barrel and having the barrel nut wrench held in a vise, I doubt it would happen at any where in the normal torque range.
I am with you, only way I see possible in a vise block is poor product, forging, or going over the barrel torque greater than 80ft lbs. I have installed more than I can count, some rebarreled, never an issue. I have had to lap a few receiver fronts to get the barrel to line up the gas system and keep the torque below 80, but never a problem. Only thing I can see wearing on the ar is the trigger pins in the lower, shooting out the barrel, breaking a cam pin, or ejector, or extractor. Weakest links, but extremely duraable, and able to last indefinately with proper preventive maintenence.
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Old July 5th, 2014, 11:27 AM   #12
 
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I'd say it would last as long as you take care of it. Look at all the old weapons still around from back when they came out with the flint lock.
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Old July 5th, 2014, 11:32 AM   #13
 
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If they can ever get it to work, caseless ammo will be the next big thing. Age is relative. My M-1 Garand, carbine and 1911 still work like the sun rising in the East. I expect with the same care, my AR's will work as long as I need them to work.
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Old July 5th, 2014, 02:48 PM   #14
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I am with you, only way I see possible in a vise block is poor product, forging, or going over the barrel torque greater than 80ft lbs. I have installed more than I can count, some rebarreled, never an issue. I have had to lap a few receiver fronts to get the barrel to line up the gas system and keep the torque below 80, but never a problem. Only thing I can see wearing on the ar is the trigger pins in the lower, shooting out the barrel, breaking a cam pin, or ejector, or extractor. Weakest links, but extremely duraable, and able to last indefinately with proper preventive maintenence.
+1. I've been swapping barrels, trigger groups, BCG, etc etc and generally shooting the piss out of them since the late 70s. Have yet to have any issues. Zero. Nadda. I think we're good.
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Old July 5th, 2014, 03:19 PM   #15
 
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I'd say it would last as long as you take care of it. Look at all the old weapons still around from back when they came out with the flint lock.
The thing(s) I'm questioning are how the aluminum receivers will hold up after 50,000 rounds, or more. Steel holds up far, far better than aluminum. I'm guessing the semi-auto ARs will hold up better but heat and vibration will get to aluminum sooner or later. I'm just curious to know what the typical lifespan of an AR is.

Someone mentioned titanium earlier, I looked into that. There is a company that makes a titanium AR-10. It sells for a mere $100,000.00
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